Will you settle for this quickly snapped iPhone shot from this morning, taken while I was wearing a single sock and brushing my teeth?  I promise the dish is worth it.

Quinoa + lentils + walnuts

  • .5 medium onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 can lentils (but surely some of those tiny red uncooked lentils would cook in just delightfully if added during step 2… just make sure you add more water as well)
  • .5 cup chopped walnuts
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Saute the onion and carrot for 4-5 minutes.
  2. Add the quinoa and stir for a couple of minutes, mostly because it’s just so lovely watching it get all toastedy.
  3. Add water; cover; cook on low for 10-12 minutes.
  4. When the quinoa is done, stir in the lentils and walnuts.

In other news: SPRING!  I know, I know–I have now jinxed it and the universe is already laughing at me as it plots a wicked blizzard in order to teach me a lesson. But oh!  I had a moment of pure bliss earlier today when, after stepping out of a store and instantly going into my defensive shoulders-to-ears posture, I realized that the air actually felt… nice.  And it smelled, as my friend put it, “almost happy.”

February graced us with:

  • 1 bout of stomach flu
  • 1 death in the family
  • 1 week of construction
  • 1 visit of Very Important Business Partners From Abroad

Here’s an example of what sustained us on those many nights when we barely had enough energy to wield a paring knife for 30 seconds:

Arugula + black bean + corn salad with roasted garlic

  • .5 lb frozen corn, cooked
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 fistful arugula
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 head garlic
  • olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper
  1. Cut off the top of each garlic clove and drizzle with oil.
  2. Roast the garlic at 400F for 30 minutes.
  3. While the garlic is roasting, throw the corn, beans, and arugula together and top with avocado.  Splash with a touch of olive oil and balsamic vinegar; add salt and pepper to taste.

Last night, I informed Mr. Onepot that we were about to order Chinese.  Then, out of some poorly defined but quite persistent guilt, I found myself preparing the following:

Polenta+spinach+black bean strata

  • 3 cups water + 1 cup milk
  • 1.25 cup polenta
  • .5 large onion
  • 1 can black beans
  • .5 lb spinach (fresh, in this case, but surely frozen would also do)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • salt, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 380F.
  2. Bring the water and milk to a boil.  (Remember that milk will trick you into thinking it’s nowhere near boiling, and then, in less than a second, puff up to an obscene height and spill all over your stove top.  So, sorry to say, you will have to babysit this just a bit.)
  3. Once it boils, stir in the polenta and salt.  Turn the heat down to low and cook for another 4-5 minutes, stirring only occasionally.  (This you don’t have to babysit!  I’ve never understood why people complain about the intense attention polenta requires.  In the Old Country, we treat it roughly and it turns out just fine.)
  4. While the milk+water are heating up, start sauteing the onion.  Once it’s soft and happy, add the beans along with a touch of their liquid.  Season ever so generously with paprika and cayenne pepper.
  5. After the beans and onions have had, say, 5 minutes to get to know each other, turn the heat off, toss the spinach on top of them, and cover.  The residual heat will cause the spinach to wilt just a touch, making it more manageable.
  6. In an altogether unrelated bowl (oh, this is so not a one-pot dish), beat the egg and combine with the yogurt.
  7. Layer!  First the polenta, then the beany and spinachy mix, and finally the yogurty egg.
  8. Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes.

(…In the end, I was so very glad we hadn’t ordered Chinese.)

Our “Lost” treat

February 3, 2010

We have a tradition of eating fiercely hot, seriously doctored up ramen while watching “Lost.”  So here’s how we rang in the start of the final season:

“Lost” ramen

  • 1 package Shin Ramyun per person
  • 1 poached egg per person
  • 2 shredded carrots
  • a touch of shredded ginger
  • a fistful of spinach leaves
  • 4 chopped scallions

    Roasted vegetable lasagna

    January 25, 2010


    Here’s the recipe I was originally going to share:

    Wretched January

    • 1 earthquake
    • 1 removal of limits on corporate campaign financing
    • 1 healthcare reform bill at risk of deflating like a botched soufflé
    • 1 f#@%ing roof leak
    1. Combine all ingredients.
    2. Season with endless hours of darkness.
    3. Serve cold.

    But, I actually have a cheery addendum.  Mr. Onepot informed me earlier that a lasagna would make him feel better–this from a man who never makes food requests!  I mean, he’s equally happy regardless of whether he’s eating a decadent multi-course meal or some strange whole grain/mystery fungus experiment of mine.  So how was I to say no?

    Roasted vegetable lasagna

    • 3 red bell peppers
    • 2 zucchini

    (What’s that?  You’re about to tell me that those are not in season?   You know what’s in season in Chicago right now?  Icicles.  So let’s move on, shall we?)

    • 1 medium onion
    • 1 lb frozen spinach
    • 1 lb cottage cheese
    • 1 28oz can diced tomatoes
    • 2 8oz cans tomato sauce
    • 1 box no-boil lasagna noodles
    • a fistful of shredded cheddar, a bit of parmesan, and some gorgonzola crumbles
    • capers
    • salt and pepper to taste
    1. I seasoned the first 3 ingredients and roasted them at 400F for 25 minutes.
    2. Then I combined them with spinach, cottage cheese, and diced tomatoes.  Yup–all together just like that.
    3. Then it was time to layer, and there’s really nothing to tell.  I used 1 little can of tomato sauce under the bottom noodle layer and the other on the very top.  In between: a layer of vegetable+cottage cheese mixture, a sprinkling of other cheeses, a layer of noodles, and so on and so forth until I ran out of ingredients…
    4. …and heaved the overflowing dish, cursing a little, into the 380-degree oven.  It spent the first 45 minutes in there bashfully covered with aluminum foil, and the final 10 minutes naked, under a sprinkling of cheese and capers.

    Ah, it was good.  And, as we patted our full bellies, we started to feel just a tad hopeful again.

    For starters: the roofer comes tomorrow.

    Monday kicked my butt.  I actually thought I was masking my scatter-brainedness rather well with a carefully choreographed series of motions and scripted exchanges delivered at strategically chosen times over the course of the day… until I tried to make dinner.  And washed an onion.  And, while opening a can of garbanzo beans, got splashed with bean juice both on the forehead and, intriguingly, up by my left elbow under a long sleeve. And then sat down to write about it and typed “eggplant” with two ts.  And typed “typed” with two ps.

    But you know what’s great about eggplantt and leeks and cracked wheat and garbanzo beans?  You really can’t go wrong, even with markedly diminished cognitive skills.  For that, on a night like this, I’m most grateful.

    Cracked wheat with eggplant + leeks + garbanzo beans

    • 1 cup cracked wheat
    • 2 cups water
    • 1 small onion
    • 1 Chinese eggplant
    • 1 leek
    • 1 can garbanzo beans
    • 1 can tomato sauce (my cupboard suggested “Spanish style” and I didn’t argue)
    1. I sauteed the cracked wheat in some olive oil just because that made me happy.  Then the water joined the party, and it all boiled and then simmered for some 20 minutes or so.
    2. In the meantime, I sauteed the onion and eggplant in a separate skillet, all the while getting rather distracted by The Daily Show.  So, I think I added oregano, parsley, salt, and pepper.  It kind of tasted like I had.
    3. Then, when the eggplant and onions became soft, the leeks and tomatoes went in for an additional couple of minutes.  And lastly, after the forehead + elbow splash incident, the garbanzos jumped in.
    4. And then we ate and were happy.

    A week of beans

    January 7, 2010

    It’s been a week of beans chez Onepot.  So, if you don’t care for beans and/or feel compelled to go straight to the comments section to explain how they give you gas, you should probably just switch to some babies-and-cookies blog now and come back tomorrow.

    Still here?  Onto beans, then.  A $3.71 bag of dry black beans, acquired on Sunday when Mr. Onepot apparently found a deal he could not turn down, has been transformed into three dinners and four lunches for the two of us.

    First there was this:

    • 1 giant, slightly intimidating heap of dry black beaks
    • enough water to cover the heap in the pressure cooker
    • 1 large onion, diced
    • 1 carrot, shredded
    • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 (slightly less than full; I was hungry) jar Trader Joe’s habanero+lime salsa
    • 2 jalapeno peppers + 1 banana pepper, cut into ringlets of fire
    • cilantro and scallions (you know, for prettiness)

    Then I…

    1. Cooked the beans in the pressure cooker for approximately 30 minutes post-whistle.  (Of course, this would work in a regular pot as well, but the cooking time will be different.)
    2. Drained the beans.  While they were relaxing in the colander I…
    3. Sauted the onion, garlic, carrot, and peppers in the same pot for 3-5 minutes.  And finally, I…
    4. Added the beans and salsa; stirred; let it all simmer for another minute or so.

    Night 1: the beans went into a tortilla with some hot sauce and queso fresco:

    Night 2: the beans cuddled with some saffron couscous and rapini stir-fried with garlic and lemon:

    Night 3: here they finally are, just gently revived with a can of chopped tomatoes, in a rice + beans interpretation:

    I went to work after a five-day fiesta of holiday spectacularness and tried to get a couple of things done.  Really I did.  But alas, my return was less than impressive.  I can’t quite bring myself to confess  just how long it took me to compose half a dozen  e-mails with clumsy fingers that seemed to be receiving instructions from a pudding-filled skull.  I finally gave up–in part because of the garbagey quality of what I was turning out, and in part because the office assistant was piercing me with looks that I was slow to interpret as “if you leave, I can leave!  no one else is here!  what the hell, woman?”

    And so I came home and undertook a much more successful pursuit: one that involved eating capers straight from the jar and feeding bits of prosciutto to the Giant Kitty.  And look, I even managed to make a pizza!

    Pizza dough

    • 1.5 cup white flour + 0.5 cup whole wheat flour
    • 1 tablespoon honey
    • 1 tablespoon yeast
    • 2/3 cup lukewarm water
    1. Combine the water, honey, and yeast.  Let this initially less-than-attractive fluid rest for 3-4 minutes, until it’s all jolly and bubbly.
    2. Add flour; knead.
    3. Let the dough rest in a warm and cozy place for 30 minutes while you look at Facebook photos of that high school friend who really let herself go.  Call your husband to have a look.
    4. Knead the dough again; let it rest for another 20-30 minutes.
    5. Roll out the dough, add toppings, and bake at 400F for 15 minutes.

    Toppings:

    • 4-5 tablespoons tomato sauce
    • prosciutto
    • capers
    • cheese (we used Chimay vieux just because that’s what we had)
    • arugula (add this after the pizza is done but still sitting in the oven for a minute or two)

    Colcannon

    December 22, 2009



    We marked the solstice with colcannon.  An Irish dish–albeit loosely interpreted–somehow seemed suitable for the shortest day of the year, since the Irish strike me as folks who know a thing or two about darkness.

    Colcannon

    • 5-6 medium red potatoes
    • 1 turnip
    • 1/2 rutabaga
    • 1/2 head cabbage, cut into strips
    • 1/2 bunch kale, cut into strips
    • 1 medium leek, finely chopped
    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • 2/3 cup buttermilk or kefir
    • 1/2 teaspoon crushed cumin seeds
    • salt and pepper to taste
    1. Cook the potatoes, parsnip, and rutabaga in a pot of boiling water until soft.
    2. Drain; mash with buttermilk and a touch of salt.
    3. In a separate pot, saute the onion for 2-3 minutes.  Add the cabbage, kale, salt, pepper, and a splash of water; steam on low heat for 10 minutes.
    4. Toss in the leek and cumin; cook for another 2 minutes.

    Now, you can simply serve the cabbage+kale+leek mixture on top of the mashed roots.  I happened to also want some black beans + paprika (prepared along these lines)–and yes, a poached egg, for a touch of sunshine on this darkest, longest of nights.

    Ugly-no-more pie

    December 21, 2009


    Remember my ugly but delicious pie?  The one that made my colleagues gasp in a not-so-good way when I pulled it out for lunch?

    Well, it’s been bugging me ever since, and with a rapidly growing sense of urgency.  See, my Unbelievably Adorable Dad’s birthday is coming up soon and I very much want the pie’s flavor –but not its looks–at our party. Really, one should not have to celebrate getting within a year of Medicare eligibility with a breathtakingly unattractive dish.

    And behold!  The problem has been solved.  Thanks, Serious Eaters, for your many good ideas.  It was actually Chef R0bert’s observation–that the following ingredients, mixed, were simply not going to produce an appetizing concoction–that made me slap my forehead and realize that I should simply layer them instead.

    Baby portabella + butternut squash+kale pie

    • 1 pie crust (yours or Pilsbury’s; I’m not going to judge)
    • 1 medium onion, diced
    • 2-3 cloves garlic
    • 1lb baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
    • 1 butternut squash, microwaved (like this) and disemboweled
    • 1 fistful of kale, ripped into bite-sized pieces and steamed for 5 minutes
    • 1 14oz can roasted, diced tomatoes
    • 1/2 tablespoon chipotle pepper (or more, if you’re like me and like FIRE)
    • salt to taste
    • a toss of blue cheese

    You will notice that kale and blue cheese are the only deviations from the original recipe.  The kale is there because I desperately needed something green all of a sudden, and the blue cheese joined the party simply because that’s what we had this time around.

    1. Sautee the onion, garlic, and mushrooms for a couple of minutes.
    2. Pour the mushroom mixture into the pie crust.  Top with layers of squash, tomatoes, kale, cheese.
    3. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350F.

    Is this not SO much better?